2007 Princeton University Constitution Day Lecture

Mon, Sep 17, 2007, 4:30 pm
Speaker(s): 
Sponsor(s): 
Program in American Studies
Office of the Provost
James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions

Why do Americans celebrate Constitution Day? Why does the federal government, indeed, require universities receiving federal funds to provide an educational program on the Constitution each September 17? Why September 17? The lecture will explore the relatively recent reconceptualization of our constitutional history, and especially the linkage that some Americans (mostly but not entirely political conservatives) have forged between their version of constitutional history and what they term “traditional American history.” What is traditional American history? Why should the federal government specially fund this version of our national past? Just as it may be that the Constitution is too important to be left to politicians, it may be that the teaching of history is too important to be left to politicians. What would a more plausible version of American constitutional patriotism be?